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MIDWINTER

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Midwinter biography
These gentle troubadours, precursors of folk-rock band STONE ANGEL, almost formed by accident when, in 1972, guitarists Paul Corrick and Ken Saul got together to rehearse a gig for a Great Yarmouth folk club Christmas party. They asked singer Jill Child to join in and the three soon became a close-knit formation with a mutual love for all things folk. They performed at clubs and festivals for a couple of years and by 1973, had accumulated enough material to record a demo tape. After a while, however, Gill decided to quit and the band broke up following a farewell concert in 1974. Guitarists Corrick and Saul then went on to form STONE ANGEL alongwith a couple of guest musicians who had participated in the demo, namely percussionist Mick Burroughers and bassist Dick Cadbury. Twenty years later, guitarist Saul was rummaging in his attic and chanced upon the master tapes of MIDWINTER's old demo; with the preserved material, the band's only album was released for the first time in 1993 by English label Kissing Spell.

Titled "The Waters of Sweet Sorrow", the CD is made up of fragile, dreamy folk full of mystical wonder with an emphasis on the ethereal vocals of Gill Child. It features an assortment of electric and particularly acoustic instruments such as Jews harp, recorder, autoharp, dulcimer, banjo, acoustic guitar and violin among others. There are no drums, so the sound is soft and gentle, and the asmosphere truly rustic; it is so redolent of 'old England past' that someone once said it sounded as if the album had been done in 1650. Overall, it features some nice early 70's, hippy-ish psych folk in the tradition of TREES, MELLOW CANDLE, early CLANNAD and The PENTANGLE.

Should be of interest to fans of the above bands as well as to fans of JETHRO TULL, STEELEYE SPAN and early FAIRPORT CONVENTION.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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Waters of Sweet SorrowWaters of Sweet Sorrow
Prog Temple 2014
Audio CD$13.16
$16.09 (used)
MidwinterMidwinter
Free Reed Us Release 2006
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Astral MirrorsAstral Mirrors
Import
Phantom Sound & Vision 2008
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Phantom Sound & Vision
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Glassy WatersGlassy Waters
Import
Imports 2007
Audio CD$30.72
$18.21 (used)
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3.94 | 13 ratings
The Waters of Sweet Sorrow
1993

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 The Waters of Sweet Sorrow by MIDWINTER album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.94 | 13 ratings

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The Waters of Sweet Sorrow
Midwinter Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars This album is a chance oddity offered by Paul Corrick and Ken Saul who would later form the only slightly more modern Stone Angel. The other dynamic here is the almost angelic and medieval-sounding Jill Child. As the story goes Corrick and Saul recruited Child to lend a voice for a local show, which later turned into a couple years of sporadic live appearances before Child left to pursue an education.

Too bad, because this is a charming bit of old Anglo-inspired folk music that would have yielded the group a modest career had they chosen to hang on. There’s no drums here and very little rhythm to speak of; instead, the trio employ mandolin, recorder, Jews harp, dulcimer, acoustic guitars and a banjo for an altogether timeless sound that should appeal to just about any fan of folk music. There’s an electric bass for some reason, but otherwise these songs would have been more at-home a hundred years or more prior to the seventies.

The tempo is mellow throughout with old-English themes and no sense of urgency whatsoever. The guitars and mandolin set the pace on most tracks, with Child’s recorder and the occasional Jew’s harp for variety.

Among the more interesting tracks are a rare three-part harmony rendition of the Anglo classic “Scarborough Fair”; a short string- picking ditty named “Dirge” that’s anything but; and an absolutely exquisite and vocal-heavy “The Two Sisters” that suffers only from a slightly muddled mix of Child’s voice midway through.

These tracks were originally recorded as demos, and languished in Saul’s attic for more than two decades after Child’s left the group and Saul and Corrick moved on to Stone Angel. The sequence of events after that is a bit unclear, but when the Stone Angel albums were reissued by Kissing Spell in the mid-nineties this album managed to make an appearance as well. It has since been released by Si-Wan as well. Unfortunately the band’s later work was never captured on tape, so there’s little hope of any additional material from this little gem of a folk aberration from the early seventies. If you are a folk music fan of any sort, this one is worth seeking out. Four stars and well recommended.

peace

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 The Waters of Sweet Sorrow by MIDWINTER album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.94 | 13 ratings

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The Waters of Sweet Sorrow
Midwinter Prog Folk

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This small band existed during the years 1972-1974 as a separate project of musicians who were deeply involved with the folk music scene. This sole album representing their achievements was recorded in year 1973, but it wasn't released until 1994 as a CD. The sound of the recording is average but still pleasant, and there is some analog hiss audible and few softly muted parts detected, probably due the affections of entropy towards the original tapes. The material is similarly well produced and sincere sounding ancient romanticism. All of the musical possibilities and variations of a small acoustic ensemble are exploited here in professional manner.

The opener "Sanctuary Stone" presents the pretty voice of Jill Child, and it is immediately clear that this is a quite purist medieval oriented folk record. Some light percussion accompanies the classical guitar chords, and the only modern instrument here is the amplified bass guitar. "To Find a Reason" has tender male vocals, an acoustic guitar, a pretty simplistic flute a totally wonderful descending melody, and is one of the brightest highlights of the album for me. "The Skater" has a Celtic sound on the guitar and vocal melodies. The voices have a slight echo on them creating a feeling of large space, and the droning rhythm is accompanied by a mouth harp, flute and tablas. The "Scarbrough Fair", which was made famous for the bigger audiences by the folk duo Simon & Garfunkel, is here arranged for several vocals in a rustic ancient style. "The Oak Tree Grove" is then a bit similar tune with the album opener, and "Dirge" sounds like an animistic ritual music, having a primitive guitar, tambourine and a flute. Though the basic melodies of "Maids And Gentleman" is also medieval styled, there's some soloing with electric guitar from the blues scales here, slightly breaking the dogmatic line of the record, but still being pleasant for the ear. "The Waters of Sweet Sorrow" is then another beautiful tune for several acoustic guitars, and as it's accompanied with the sweet singing and brilliantly composed verse, it's no wonder that this song's name was selected as the title of this album. "All Things are Quite Silent" is played with raw, ancient sounding mandolins, and when they unite with soft female voice, an interesting contrast is borne. This song brought me a visual association of a small medieval European village covered in wintertime snow. "The Two Sisters" has a nice conversation dialogue with the guitar and tender flute, and it also has both male and lady vocals. Later also distorted but silent solo guitar accompanies this religious themed composition. The album is closed with "Winter Song", which is a quite simple but has very beautiful arrangement for guitar and several voices, bringing up great choral harmonies at the end of it.

My interest towards this record was caught by its cover, which is a painting named "The Lady of Shalott" from John William Waterhouse. This scene is from a poem by Arthur Hughes, and the basic principle of Pre-Raphaelite artistic movement was to look back in time when seeking inspiration and themes. The romantic folk music of Midwinter does the same, so the cover painting selection fits here better than wonderfully. This record is recommended sincerely to fans of both folk music, and to those who are interested of bands with a lady singer on lead vocals.

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